The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The historical amnesia of the South regarding its black and white Union soldiers should be rectified. By choosing to selectively remember and honor Confederate soldiers while simultaneously ignoring the many Southerners who fought for the Union, Southerners send clear message that loyalty to region, protection of white supremacy, and veneration of the Confederacy are the only legacies of the Civil War worth remembering. If Confederate monuments continue to be torn down, new ones should go up, celebrating those Southerners--black and white--who remained loyal to the Union and brought about “a new birth of freedom.”

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"In behalf of humanity:" Richard Etheridge, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, and Reconstruction

"In behalf of humanity:" Richard Etheridge, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, and Reconstruction

Within one hundred miles of Ft. Monroe, the catalyst for military emancipation under the command of Benjamin Butler, military operations along the coast of Virginia bled into North Carolina’s Outer Banks and had lasting implications for its seemingly small population.  Within this militarily and geographically dynamic area, Richard Etheridge would make a name for himself both as an advocate for Civil Rights and leader of the freedman’s population along the coast.

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Secrets of a Cemetery, Part IV: The United States Colored Troops

Secrets of a Cemetery, Part IV: The United States Colored Troops

For five men buried in the National Cemetery, the Civil War was the opportunity for a completely new future.  African-American men were not allowed to enlist until the second half of the war (black troops would see their first action in Virginia at Spotsylvania in 1864) but by the end of the war there were 166 black regiments in US service consisting of 180,000 troops.  For these Colored Troops and the rest of the enslaved population, the Civil War was the road to emancipation. 

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Memorable Days: The Battle of Gettysburg through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Memorable Days:  The Battle of Gettysburg through the Eyes of a Free Black Woman

Gettysburg. If someone can name a single Civil War battle, it is most likely the only major battle that occurred north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Many argue that this three day ordeal in 1863 was the culminating point of America’s most destructive war, the moment that turned the tide against Robert E. Lee’s legendary Army of Northern Virginia and began the uphill struggle towards reunion and a new birth of freedom. But Emilie Davis, a free African-American woman living in Philadelphia during the war, never names this small Pennsylvania town in her diary chronicling the monumental year of 1863.

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Sesquicentennial Spotlight: The Fall of Fort Fisher and the Confederacy's Collapse

Sesquicentennial Spotlight:  The Fall of Fort Fisher and the Confederacy's Collapse

Dr. James A. Mowris surveyed the scene around him and could not help but be struck by its terrible grandeur.  The forty year-old surgeon, under whose care were the veteran soldiers of the 117th New York Infantry, watched enraptured as thousands of Union troops disembarked onto the North Carolina coast.  As the “downy web footed infantry” splashed ashore, a United States Navy fleet provided cover fire, bombarding Confederate-held Fort Fisher nearby.  Fort Fisher protected the port of Wilmington, North Carolina, where for four years sleek Confederate blockade runners had slipped past Union warships and returned laden with much needed provisions, war materials, medicine, and more.  By 1865, Wilmington was the Confederacy’s last remaining open port, a thin golden lifeline the connected the beleaguered South to the outside world and all its riches. Yet James A. Mowris and the nearly 9,000 other Union soldiers accompanying him had arrived to cut that invaluable lifeline.  It was Friday the 13th, January, 1865, and the last great coastal campaign of the Civil War was underway.

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